When I was young I lost the confidence to improvise and create my own music. Now, years later and a classically-trained musician I donʼt want my student to have the same experience that I had. I came to realize that I needed more training in how to effectively integrate non-formal and informal practices into the structure of an American public school and a Sistema-inspired music room. This is the main reason why I am conducting my Fulbright in the UK: to study the innovative learning approach of Musical Futures. Inspired by UCL Professor Lucy Greenʼs (2005) informal approach to learning in the music classroom, Musical Futures was established in 2003 as an initiative funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation to help address the lack of engagement exhibited by many UK youth in secondary school music programs.
Greenʼs informal learning pedagogy provides classically trained instrumental and classroom music teachers with practical tools to successfully integrate informal practices of popular musicians into their teaching. According to Green (2013), "Informal approaches tend to involve a particularly deep integration of listening, performing, improvising, and composing throughout the learning process" (p. viii). Musical Futures was founded on Greenʼs model, which encourages student-driven learning, collaboration, and group performance. Through self-teaching and providing a relevant social context, Musical Futures helps students develop their musical identity and gives them an equal voice in the classroom (Wright, 2014). Programming includes creative music-making through instrumental ensembles, singing supported by mobile technology and whole classroom approaches to teaching drums, keyboard, ukulele, guitar and bass to "keep music alive in our schools in order to nurture the creative talent of tomorrow" (Musical Futures, 2017, para. 3). In 2017, Musical Futures was selected as one of the top ten innovative education projects by the global education non-profit HundrED.
My next blog will focus on the Just Play curriculum and training, which Fran Hannan modeled for classroom teachers and primary students in Leeds, but I wanted to end this post with a short video of Lucy Green explaining the informal learning process and what students and teachers can learn from popular musicians.
Green, L. (2013). Hear, listen, play!: How to free your studentsʼ aural, improvisation, and performance skills. Oxford: University Press.
Green, L. (2005). The music curriculum as lived experience: Children's “natural” music-learning processes. Music Educators Journal, 91(4), 27-32.
Wright, R. (2014). The fourth sociology and music education: Towards a sociology of integration. Sociology.
This is a personal blog, sharing my experiences living in the UK from January - June 2019 as a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching scholar. This blog is not an official site of the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State. The views expressed on this site are entirely my own and do not represent the views of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State, or any of its partner organizations.